Are we witnessing a Golden Era of coaching? | Bonehead Picks

Are we witnessing the Golden Era of coaching?

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Incredibly, both Geno Auriemma and Sylvia Hatchell entered the exclusive 1,000 wins club of Division I college basketball head coaches on the exact same day. Hatchell has been the head coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of North Carolina since 1986 and Auriemma has been the head coach of the women’s basketball team since 1985 so both coaches are pillars at their respective colleges. They are both in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame due their terrific coaching accomplishments. There are extremely accomplished head coaches or managers in all professional and collegiate sports but it might be that sports fans are watching the best of all time in their particular sports all coaching during the exact same time.

Although Pat Summitt lifted Tennessee to the dominant and most well known women’s college basketball team during her tenure there, the heights that Geno Auriemma have lifted UConn past the incredible heights that the best that Summitt once reached. Summitt’s impact on the game as a respected, determined coaching presence as a female head coach can never be passed by Auriemma but his accomplishments are virtually unmatched.

The best men’s college basketball coach ever is UCLA legend John Wooden, who owns a record 10 NCAA national championships. However, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is a coaching legend in his own right who is second to Wooden with five NCAA national titles. UCLA was so dominant during Wooden’s tenure that is difficult to imagine that anyone could challenge Wooden as the best men’s college basketball coach ever but a case could be made for Krzyzewski being as good as Wooden because of the current landscape of college basketball being so competitive while having to coach even younger players than Wooden did. Duke has won national championship with a variety of different teams including with a senior and junior laden team in 2009-10 and a freshman driven team in 2014-15, which shows the ability of Coach K to reach all types of talent.

There is a worthy challenger to the king of college football as well. Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant has the most NCAA Division I national championships with six but current Alabama coach Nick Saban has a chance to earn his sixth national championship as a head coach by winning the College Football Playoff this January. Alabama has been dominant both during the Bear Bryant and Nick Saban eras but the SEC was even tougher during Saban’s tenure while the talent is spread out even more in college football. Bryant didn’t have the added pressure of a SEC championship game, BCS Championship Game, or College Football Playoff, all of which Saban has had to deal with and succeed in. If Saban wins this College Football Playoff with Alabama as the number 4 seed, the case may be over for picking anyone better.

The Mount Rushmore of NBA coaches would include greats like Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson, and Pat Riley. Current San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich may get a lot of attention lately about his political views but that doesn’t obscure his excellence as a head coach. He has one five NBA championships led by one transcendent player in Tim Duncan while managing the minutes of an aging great in David Robinson. The Spurs championship teams had two unheralded draft picks who were foreign surprises in Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. While Parker and Ginobili are likely Hall of Famers in the future, it is possible that no NBA head coach ever won three or more championships with less top end talent than the Spurs had save for Duncan and an aging Robinson. Now, Popovich has the Spurs remaining as title contenders with a new franchise player in Kawhi Leonard as their window excellence has spanned two decades and secured Popovich as a name to be brought up as the NBA’s best coach ever.

The man whose name adorns the NFL’s championship trophy, Vince Lombardi, is widely considered the best head coach in NFL history. He molded strong, technical, and tough Green Bay Packers teams into multiple champions. He was both an innovator and motivator, which is rare for a coach to reach high marks in both areas. Although Bill Belichick is known as one of the most brilliant minds in NFL history, he doesn’t get the credit for being the motivator he is. He has motivated older players like Corey Dillon, Willie McGinest, and others to get the most out of what they had left. Although Tom Brady gets and deserves a lot of credit for the Patriots five Super Bowl championships, Belichick’s ability to mold a team out of different players and adjust his game plan is one of the reasons he could be the only person to challenge Lombardi as the king of NFL head coaches all time.

 

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(Photo – Gary Cosby Jr./The Tuscaloosa News via AP)

 

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